'The Finer Point

The Finer Point:

How I use my notebooks is something I think about a lot. In July 2015 I wrote a post on my notebook set-up exploring what notebooks I used and more importantly how I used them. However since July quite a bit has changed therefore I wanted to post a February 2016 update running through my notebook usage.

I love reading about how people use their notebooks, this post both gave me some ideas about how to use my notebooks, and also some changes to my monthly load out post.



Until Christmas of last year I never had a bag that I really liked. That all changed when I read a review of the Tom Bihn Co-Pilot by Jon Bemis on the Pen Addict blog. My particular need is to be able to carry my writing supplies to and from work so that I can journal and or write letters during my lunch break.

Fantastic post. It also gave me some ideas on what I could do with my monthly load out post.


Thomas R. Hall:

The word geek has traditionally had more of a negative connotation, but has been used more recently to mean someone who is passionate about a subject. Indeed, I can definitely say that I “geek out” about fountain pens and stationery. I “geek out” about mechanical keyboards too. But there are a wide array of topics that I also geek out about. To me, it’s about caring about something deeply. I want to ensure that when I get something, it’s the best product that I can get that meets my needs.

Fantastic post. The funny thing about being a geek is that almost everyone are geeks about at least a few things. Being a geek is to care much more about a certain thing than most people do. And the interesting thing about being a geek is that the combination of areas where you are a geek is very personal.

'The Pencilcase Blog


With the M (by Marc Newson), Montblanc brought a radically different product to the fountain pen market. Compared to the ever-so popular Meisterstück 146, with its conservative looks, the M appears to come straight from the future, which is kind of what Montblanc aimed at…

I’m not a fan of Montblanc for a number of reasons. The three most important ones are: they refuse to sell online; their aesthetics is a little bit too conservative or a little bit too “grandpa” for my personal taste; their prices are beyond stupid.

The M is one of the few, if not the only Montblanc pen I have ever considered. It looks fantastic. There are many pens that look better. But it has something unique to it that made me put it on the list. I also hope that this might be the first step for Montblanc to join the 21st century.

'Seaweed Kisses

Seaweed Kisses:

The Journal Diaries is a blog segment where we get a sneak peek into the journals, notebooks, organizers, and diaries from creative souls all over the world. My special guest today is Kim based in California, USA.

That’s one good looking bullet journal. And Bullet journal is a fantastic system for anyone that wants a task management system for pen and paper with a lot of structure. I personally prefer something much simpler.

'The Pen Haul

The Pen Haul:

I want to start this review out right, with my honest opinion of how I like this ink. I hate it. Now let me tell you why I hate it and why you probably don’t need this ink in your collection. I luckily only picked up a pack of cartridges to try out and avoided getting a bottle that would take up unnecessary space on my desk.

That got to be the most useless ink I have ever seen.


I was very skeptical about this pen, for a very long time, and I still don’t like the cap or the top of the pen from a aesthetic point of view, but the cap is a very functional one.

This pen is also the first stub nib I have tried, and I am intrigued. The verdict thus far is that I like it for certain things, for example for writing down tasks and for when I want to make sure that what I write look good. And I know from this that I probably would love a soft and flexible gold stub nib.

I think this pen is fantastic. It feels much more solid and durable than my 580AL, and the price makes it a no brainer. I will without doubt get at least one more of them(with a different nib). You get so much bang for your buck. It is a excellent beginner pen. What I mean by beginner pen isn’t necessarily the first pen, but the pen you get when you aren’t afraid of buying a whole bottle of ink.

The thing I started to think when I first got it, and that have been stuck in my mind every single time I have been using it since is that I would rather get three ECO’s than a 580.

It is comfortable to write with, it holds enough ink and you have a lot of nib options. Which is everything I don’t like about the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari.

If you ask me if you should order one, the answer is yes for everyone. As I touched on above, the exception might be those of you that haven’t started buying ink in bottles yet. I wouldn’t go for it as my first fountain pen, but it is a excellent second one. And it is the perfect pen to get started on piston fillers on ink on bottle.

I think everyone should get into bottled ink as fast as possible. It is much better than what you find in cartridges. First of all you can probably buy the most expensive ink available and still get more ink for your money than what you get from cartridges. The money thing was a key factor for me. But the best thing is that you have to many more options.



We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Having learned from the error of our own ways and from the vast amount of feedback and experiences we hear from customers, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest mistakes we see made with fountain pens. Hopefully, now that you know them, you can avoid the disastrous results…

A great list, I don’t agree that 7, is a mistake, I don’t. I guess it’s a matter of if you think a pen should look like it did out of the box, or not.

'Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Pens! Paper! Pencils!:

I was really very pleasantly surprised by the Whitelines pocket notebook. The cover is strong, the design is tasteful and the paper is great.

I love Whitelines notebooks, I used to use them a lot during my first year at the University. They are utilitarian, well designed and have pretty good paper. Their design is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean it is the most beautiful notebook in the world. But it means that they have a very functional design. The thing I loved about them is that lines and grids are designed in a way where it is very easy to ignore them, and follow them when you need to.



Why, given this is one of more boring Studios? Well it was my first Lamy, it has a plastic grip section rather than shiny metal (making it lighter and less slippery), and at a pinch the brushed finish can be used as a nail file.

Nice. This pen have been on my list for a while now, and I guess I have to wait until I either find a used one with a plastic grip, or until they start making them again.

Goulet Review of the Lamy Charged Green ink.

Goulet Pens:

It’s ink review time! Madigan here, reviewing the newest ink in the Lamy line up, Lamy Charged Green. Sarah used it in Monday Matchup this week, paired with the Lamy Charged Green Al-Star. I’m a little bit in love with the pen and was hoping that the ink would be like last year’s CopperOrange, which I loved so much, I bought a bottle! I was hoping for a light green with some dark green shading.

Unfortunately, this ink was closer to the NeonLime ink that went with last year’s NeonLime Safari. No, it isn’t quite as neon, but it is such a light hue! Read on to hear about my experience.

Interesting colour, but the thing that always makes me not adding or straight out removing Lamy inks from my shopping list is the fact that their dry time isn’t good enough. They have some inks that I think look fantastic, and some that are just “meh”. And they never manage to get it right. I don’t mind a longer dry time, even though 30 seconds is beyond ridiculous, if the colour is fantastic. But the dry time should and must be almost none if the colour is in the “meh” category.

Pen Addict Review of the Pilot Stargazer.

Susan Pigott:

The Stargazer is an impressive little pen. It is well made and has more decorative features than some more expensive pens. It would make an excellent pocket pen and/or small notebook pen. The cap snaps on securely, and the pen is small and substantial enough to be an EDC.

Interesting pen, I have gotten an interest for Pilot pens recently, not anything beyond the “window shopping”-stage yet. I like how it looks(I would have gone for the black model though) but the thing that makes it a non starter for me is the converter. The ink capacity is not even close to be good enough for me.

There are two important factors that plays a role when I decide if a pen is something I am going to consider buying or not. It is how it looks, and it is the utilitarian aspect. how comfortable is it to use it & how much ink does it hold? I’m not going to buy a pen for $150, when it holds the same amount of ink as a Metropolitan, when I could get a Lamy 2000 for the same amount of money.


I got this lovely green ink with my last order from JetPens. One of my goals for 2016 is to try out more different inks, especially as many as I can of the Iroshizuku inks. I have used black inks for as long as I can remember. The reason I love black inks is that I can use them for everything, and I personally think that black in general look much better than the “bic-blue”. This doesn’t mean that I hate all blue inks, but I’m not a fan of the lighter ones.

The two most important factors for me when I try a new ink is how it is to write with it & the dry time. Both of the Iroshizuku inks I have tried are excellent at both. It always flows wonderfully, and the dry time is short. What I mean by that is that the time it takes the ink to dry is short enough so that I never have to think about it. It is more or less the same as the black Iroshizuku, but slower than the Noodlers Baranacke.

I love this green colour. It doesn’t have the properties I don’t like about many light greens where it just looks too light and is hard to read. That means that it looks very good if you write with a finer nib. And it doesn’t have what I don’t like about many darker greens either, where it is just this very dark thing. This means that it looks slightly different with finer and broader nibs, and you get slight variations when you write with a stub nib. This is probably old news for most people, but I hadn’t experienced it much myself, because black is black.

It is fantastic ink, and I also look forward to trying out a few more Iroshizuku inks. I have another Iroshizuku bottle waiting for me. And I’ll probably order a few more the next time I buy something. Black will probably continue to be my primary colour, but I really enjoy to have a few pens with something different.

The thing I have learned to enjoy about the Iroshizuku inks is that they are very consistent; based on both my own experience and reviews. That means that how it feels to use them, and the dry time is more or less the same. And that is a fantastic selling point by itself, as long as it is consistently good.

Why writing down tasks from your task management app can be a productivity booster.

This started out as a tweet, when I was listening to the latest episode of the Pen Addict Podcast, but I didn’t find a way to write it short enough. One of the biggest productivity boosts I every experienced when I used a task management solution like OmniFocus or Todoist was when I started to write down what I planned to do that day in a notebook. I know it sounds counter productive and weird. But hear me out.

The way I used to do it was that I opened a double page in a Field Notes notebook, and wrote the name of the day, and then went over what I had in OmniFocus and first wrote down everything that was due on the left side, and what I hoped to do on the right page. Then I closed the application, and it would stay like that until I had completed everything.

This eventually drove me down a path that led to me going 100% paper on everything that is related to calendars and task management, but it doesn’t have to. You can read more about that here.

This is what you get if you give this trick a try:

  • Planning. You actually sit down and plan everything you are going to do, and you actually think about what is important and what you reasonable can expect to accomplish.
  • Focus. It is much easier to look down on a notebook while working than switching to your app of choice. There might be something poping up and distracting you, or you might get lost in all the other tasks that you have there. When you look in your notebook, you only see the double page, and what you put there.
  • Efficiency. It is so easy to be efficient at what ever you do, when you know exactly what you should be doing. And my personal opinion is that the only way to get there in a consistent way is by doing some simple planning and focus.

Then, at the end of the day, I used to go over what I completed and didn’t and cross out in my notebook what I didn’t get to, and marked what got done as completed in my app of choice. This method gives you a lot in terms of planning, focus and efficiency, but you also learn a lot about yourself, and most important: how much can I expect to get done in any given day.

Load out February 2016.

These load out posts have become one of my favourite things I write each month. I find the process of looking at everything I do very rewarding, instead of just noticing the minor changes that I actually pay attention to every month. I think it is a great way to identify what I do, how I do it and how to improve it.

The biggest change during the last month is that I have added a TWSBI Eco with a Stub nib to my daily carry. I have been using one of my newest inks in it: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku. This is the first ink I have that isn’t black.

I also did something that have been in the back of my head for a while. It all started when I found a box of Pilot Cartridges that I had forgotten about. The thing I have started doing is to just use them up, and to use up my bottle of Lamy Black Ink, before I start using any other black inks.

This is the method I have been using to avoid getting a huge notebooks collection. I realised that I’m not a fan of the Pilot Ink or the Lamy Ink, but there is no good reason not to use them, and I will never do so unless I just force myself to do it.

Because, if I don’t take the active choice to use up that before I use anything else, then I’ll just keep using the stuff I prefer, until its so old I can’t use it. There is nothing wrong with the cartridges or the Lamy Ink, I just prefer my other inks.

The plan now, for both my TWSBI’s is to ink them up with the Lamy ink as soon as they are dry.

This is my current pen situation:

  • Pilot Metropolitan: Inked up with Pilot Cartridges
  • Lamy 2000: Inked up with Black Lamy Ink.
  • TWSBI 580AL: Inked up with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku.
  • TWSBI Eco: Inked up with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku.

And the notebooks situation:
– I finally completed my A4 notebook that I have been using since September. So I moved that portion of my writing and note taking over to my Midori Travelers Notebook.
– Midori Travelers Notebook: I use it for all my long form writing, and I have started to do some sketch noting as well.
– Hobonichi Planner: same as always: stuff that are due and appointments.
– Field Notes is as always the place I put all my tasks. But I only have 4 left, and I have not ordered any new ones. This means that a major change in this aspect of my day to day life is very close. I’m not going to say what, but I have planned to try something new in this area since in December.

'Fountain Pens for Lefties

Patrick Kansa:

Well, not learning how to write from scratch, but rather, learning how to write with a fountain pen. You see, as a lefty, there are all manner of things working against me successfully using a fountain pen. You have the whole push-vs-pull hand movement, but more importantly, there is the issue of ink. Specifically, of ink drying times.

I had lot of the same doubts, being a lefty, when I got curious about fountain pens. But I got over it. The most important thing until you either learn some techniques or get over it is to go for ink and paper combinations that limit the dry time. The Noodlers Bernanke inks are the best. The only places I even noticed dry time when I used it was with paper that are known for long dry time.

Noodlers Bernanke and Leauchttrum1917 is a solid combo.

What Makes The Stationery Community Great — The Pen Addict

Daniel Lemay:

I too experienced the sheer generosity of the people here. After saving up for months fairly early in my pen addiction I finally was able to purchase a Franklin Christoph Model 40. Less than two months into owning it, I somehow lost it (my most expensive pen at the time and the only one I ever lost). After sharing the sad news in the Pen Addict Slack Group I got an unexpected message from Thomas Hall offering to give me his Model 40 because he wasn’t using it much. That was something that totally caught me off guard–that I, a nobody in my perspective, would be the recipient of such generosity from someone I didn’t even know. The generosity of this community shows itself regularly through freely offering ink samples, picking up and shipping of Field Notes only found locally, etc.

That’s amazing. I just love the stationary community. You are fantastic.

Planner Formats | Notebook Stories

Notebook Stories:

How do you feel about planner notebooks with highly formatted pages? I love seeing images of how people use them, as the pages sometimes look wonderfully dense and textured with text and colors and highlighting. But when it comes to using them myself, I’m a bit reluctant. I make lots of lists on paper, but when it comes to keeping track of appointments and projects, I tend to use digital tools instead. I love to use pens on paper, but for some purposes I have to admit I don’t find it efficient. The image below with blocks of time laid out with different color highlighters is very appealing, but in my day to day life, I know I’d get frustrated by having no way to erase them when meetings were rescheduled! I do like the way these planners prompt you to slot your to-do list items into blocks of time– I think it’s a key part of being organized, as you have to allow yourself time to actually do things!

I personally prefer doing both planning and task management on paper because of the simplicity and how much easier it is to look in a notebook compared to a complicated calendar or task management app. The formats of a planner is very important, and I think the preference comes down to personal choice and use case.

I prefer using one with as little formatting as possible because it is more flexible. But there are many places where a highly structured one is important, for example if you run a business with hourly appointments or have a class schedule.

Midori Traveler’s Notebook Rebranding

Goulet posted about something very interesting a few days ago:Midori Traveler’s Notebook Rebranding!. I love my MTN. And I am very excited about the news. The new colour looks amazing.

I’m a huge fan of the regular sized notebook. And the passport isn’t really something I’m interested in, for a number of reasons, that I’m coming back to in a upcoming post. But they are finally making sure that all the great refills you can get are the same for both options. Which makes the passport sized one much more attractive.

I can’t wait for the reviews this spring.

'The Pencilcase Blog | Fountain pen, Pencil, Ink and Paper reviews

The Pencilcase Blog:

Conid is a small-scale Belgian pen brand. For those of you that never heard of them before: they make fountain pens with a unique filling system: ‘the Bulkfiller’. The Bulkfiller system is quite an engineering feat, and there’s a lot to say about it. That’s why I decided to make this into a separate post. I’ll focus solely on the filling system in this post. You can find the review of the Conid Minimalistica fountain pen here.

This posts is going to end up costing me a lot of money. Conid have something very interesting. The filling system is interesting. But the thing that got me interested, and pushed me to add it to my wish list is their pens. They have five different pens, they look kind of different, but the key difference between them are ink capacity. I love how they market themselves: exchangeable nibs & maximum ink capacity.

This is not a cheap pen, but they claim and it looks durable. My two favourite pens from a design perspective is the Lamy 2000 and Visconti Homo Sapiens. But I also love the contemporary look of TWSBI. Conid is the first example I have seen of a pen that can compete with both.

Handwriting will not die… | The Cramped

Patrick Rhone:

Our children. Mine and yours. All of us who write by hand and advocate its importance and advantages. We who have children will write by hand in front of those children. Through such actions they will learn from us that writing by hand is something one does. We will teach them to do the same.

A fantastic piece by Mr. Rhone. I’m getting fed up with the “handwriting is going away” posts. Fine, most people write less with pens than they did 100 years ago. But when I look at the various places I have worked over the years, I can’t remember anyone that didn’t use paper. All of them used it for something. Writing down stuff they have to do on post-it’s during a meeting or writing a todo list on a A4 page.

Why do people use a pen when they have a computer? It is the pragmatic choice. It is just easier to write something down on paper than it is to find a piece of software to do the same thing. Children will also learn how to write by hand for the foreseeable future. The writing essay part of writing can be done on a computer, and the teacher are probably thankful for students that hand in papers written on a computer. But what about math? It is very hard to do what is very simple on paper with a computer without a lot of training.

There are of course areas where we used to use pen and paper where a computer, or a typewriter is better in every single shape or form. But there are also many areas and use cases where paper is better.

Task Management with pen and paper.

I just added a new page to the site. One of the things I wanted to do when I started this site was to put some time into explaining how I use pen and paper to manage my day to day life. You can find the first version of it here. I decided to have it as a page instead of a blog post because I’m going to update it from time to time.

It is a rough first draft. it will be updated from time to time, both in terms of content as my system and tools change, and in terms of some much needed editing.

I’m also going to set up a Public Github Repo to have easy access to the different versions of the text.

'Forrest Brazeal


I could write faster than I could type, but without knowing shorthand, this method still wasn’t fast enough to allow me to perfectly transcribe every lecture slide. So I was forced to write smarter, not faster. I’d listen carefully to the lecture while paraphrasing anything that seemed important, in real time, using as few words as possible.

I have tested this out a few times, where I have used my laptop to take notes in entire subjects, and the result is always the same: I remember way more of what I was told in a lecture or seminar when I take notes by hand, and the same goes when I take notes while reading.

I manage everything I do at work with pen and paper; a combination of Midori Travelers Notebook, Field Notes and the notebooks we have at work. There is no reason to do everything digital just because I work as a web developer.

'The Pen Addict

Jeff Abbott:

The Clairefontaine Basics Life Unplugged notebook is my new favorite notebook. The simple design and wonderful paper, along with the great price of just $9, make this notebook an irresistible tool in my arsenal. If you don’t mind being locked in to a lined-only paper, you owe it to yourself to give Clairefontaine a shot. Who knows — it might be your new favorite paper.

That looks like a fantastic notebook. Some people dislike lined paper, and I feel the same way from time to time. But lined paper is great for making lists and writing because you waste much less paper when you have lines; or even a grid system if you prefer something a little bit more flexible.

Cursive Logic

The Cursive Logic course looks like the obvious place to start for anyone that want to learn(or re-learn) how to write in cursive. My cursive is horrible, but I prefer to write non-cursive anyways, and I always have. But I might order this course just to get better at reading cursive.

For me, the thought of loosing cursive, as in loosing the tradition of know how to read and write it feels like loosing touch with our origin. It feels like loosing the ability to read and write classic greek and latin. In other words it feels like loosing Plato and Aristotle and the History of the great Roman Empire.